We’ll preface this roast by saying that Brian Singer (not the Hollywood Singer accused of drugging and raping, the one who works at the investment firm William Blair) is excited about bitcoin, wants to end world poverty and is good friends with the adorably cheeked Steve Forbes. Wearing an assortment of wristware…
…Singer sat down with Forbes (bossman at Forbes, Inc. and former Republican Presidential nominee candidate) for a couple of minutes that were marked by exuberant hand movements, high pitched exclamations and Forbes grinning in his so-jolly-it’s-almost-sinister way, occasionally glancing to the side to find which producer to fire after this is over.
Jokes aside, the interview is really bad. Singer seems to let his excitement for what he calls “blockchain encryption” or “blockchain cryptography” (technically not the most accurate word choice) get the best of him, settling for generalities and the I believe, I really think, I believe form of argument rather than convincing us with specific details. Some of our favorite quotes from the video:
An answer to an ‘or’ question.
“I don’t want to go into any of the math or complexity behind it.”
We often hear this type of “the details are too complicated or boring to understand” line and it’s very off putting for people not familiar with bitcoin. Either go into the details that make the technology innovative and secure, perhaps by crafting an understandable analogy, or don’t. But don’t tell us you’re not.
“What does that mean…for the crazy gobbledygook payment system we have today?”
“Now what do you we have? Cellphones! Of all flavors, sizes…uh…”
As the interview nears it’s finish, you actually start to like this Brian Singer guy. Sure, a bit clownish, but well intentioned. The type of guy that would pat you on the shoulder after you miss an easy spare. So, we’ll expand on one of his more cogent ideas that blockchain technology and a public ledger system can give people operating in places with dubious legal environments a way to verify ownership of property, a step certain economists believe is the basis for developing strong economies.
Can a digital public ledger help secure property rights in countries with corrupt governments? Maybe. These types of countries might already have a system of keeping track of land ownership, but it doesn’t take much for the next dictator’s son to throw out the book and write his name next to all the beach front property. A properly constructed public ledger system cannot be altered, elements can only be transferred with possession of a private key, which would certainly deter certain types of transgressions. However this does not offer protection against forceful transfers or the dissolution of the acceptance of that ledger as the official record. The Dictator’s Son uses a combination of powers to hijack property. Political, military, and monetary which may still be effective, especially in the case of simply no longer recognizing the ledger as official.
One exciting possibility is a ledger system materially tied to the ownership of property. For example, a car registry in which possession of a private key (stored in a key fob) gave you the ability to unlock the car and start the ignition. This would thwart the Dictator’s Son from simply disregarding the ledger as it, the ledger, would not only verify ownership put also give you the means to own that thing, in this example the keys to drive a car.
Here’s the interview in full, and a link to the article, which is just a transcription of the interview and a good read if you can imagine the agony of the transcriber.